Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yü Ch'êng-lung (1617–1684)

3678429Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 2 — Yü Ch'êng-lung (1617–1684)Fang Chao-ying

Ch'êng-lung 于成龍 (T. 北溟, H. 于山), Sept. 26, 1617–1684, May 31, oflicial, was a native of Yung-ning, Shansi. A senior licentiate (kung-shêng) of 1639, he began his offcial career in 1661 at forty-five sui, as magistrate of Lo-ch'êng, Kwangsi. This district was taken over from the officials under the Prince of Kuei (see under Chu Yu-lang) in 1659, and Yü Ch'êng-lung was its first Ch'ing magistrate. The principal city in the district had long been deserted, being able to claim a population of only six families. Furthermore, many families of aboriginal tribes called Yao 猺, and T'ung 獞 threatened it from the surrounding mountains. The place was so miasmatic that four of his nine servants soon died there. Four others fled for their lives, leaving only one to share the responsibilities of his administration. Nevertheless, after six years of effort Yü was successful in gathering a larger population, in setting up laws for the aborigines, and in bettering the condition of the people. He was recognized as an able official and was promoted to the post of department magistrate of Ho-chou, Szechwan, in 1667. Two years later he was appointed sub-prefect of Huang-chou-fu, Hupeh. At the beginning of the Sanfan rebellion (see under Wu San-kuei) local unrest broke out in the prefecture. Yü was appointed prefect in 1674 and succeeded in pacifying part of the rebels and suppressing the rest. In 1677 he was appointed intendant of river defense at Huang-chou—a post that was abolished in 1663, re-established in 1677, and again abolished in 1682. In 1678 he was appointed provincial judge and, in the following year, financial commissioner of Fukien. In 1680 he became governor of Chihli and was praised by Emperor Shêng-tsu as the most upright official in the realm.

In 1682 Yü Ch'êng-lung was made governor-general of Kiangnan and Kiangsi. When the news of his appointment reached the southern part of Kiangsu it is said that the families that were noted for their luxurious living changed to a simpler mode of life and took off their sumptuous garments even before his arrival at Nanking. According to legend, he was called Yü Ch'ing-t'ien 于青天, "Yü of the Clear Sky", in reference to his incorruptibility. Because he seldom ate meat, he was also called Yü Ch'ing-ts'ai (菜). "Yü the Vegetarian". At the time of his death in 1684 his sole personal belongings consisted of some worn-out cotton clothes. He was canonized as Ch'ing-tuan 清端 and his name was celebrated in the Temple of Eminent Statesmen in Peking, and in many other temples erected to his honor in cities where he had served as an official. He is said to have had a fondness for wine, although he did not permit it to hinder him in carrying out his official duties.

Yü's writings, consisting chiefly of memorials, reports and instructions, were first printed in 1683, under the title 于山奏牘 Yü-shan tsou-tu, 8 chüan. In 1707 his grandson, Yü Chun 于準 (T. 子繩, H. 萊公, d. 1731), then the governor of Kiangsu, re-edited them in 8 chüan, with supplements, under the title Yü Ch'ing-tuan kung chêng-shu (公政書). A contemporary official of the same name, Yü Ch'êng-lung [q. v.], was twenty-one years his junior. Another official whose name is likewise romanized Yü Ch'eng-lung, but written in Chinese as 喻成龍 (T. 武功), was governor-general of Hu-kuang in the years 1703-05 and died about 1713.

[1/283/1a; 2/8/20a; 3/158/1a; 4/65/1a; 7/7/5b; 16/6/1a; 18/6/1a; Hupeh t'ung-chih (1921) 115/3b; 34/207/16a.]

Fang Chao-ying